If you’re wondering how to legally get married in Portugal, and you’re planning a wedding in Portugal – I’ve put together a thorough guide to make things easier for you. Portugal is one of my favourite places to shoot, and since my mother lives there, I head back a couple times a year to visit her and shoot a couple of weddings too!
Weddings in Portugal
With easy flights to and from the UK, and perfect weather all year round – Portugal is a great destination wedding for so many couples in the UK. But it can be a bit difficult to understand all the legalities. So let’s get to it.
Getting married in Portugal for UK citizens requires documentation such as a marriage license from the Civil Registry Office and it usually takes approximately one month for the Portuguese authorities to process this request. Fortunately, there is no legal residency requirement for a wedding in Portugal.
This blog covers all the documentation required to legally get married in Portugal as a foreigner. The legal age for marriage is 16 and the cost to get married in Portugal usually varies from €4.000 – €15.000.
To take a look at the best wedding venues in Portugal – click here.
What you need to know before having a wedding in Portugal
Portugal is one of the most sought-after countries when planning a destination wedding. Loved for its long, sandy beaches, mouth-watering cuisine, welcoming people, and gloriously sunny weather, Portugal is home to many incredible wedding venues and suppliers.
Before you vira around your lounge in excitement for your destination wedding plans, here are a few things to take into consideration when planning your wedding in Portugal:
- You may only be married in Portugal according to Portuguese law, and in the presence of a Registrar. You may not be married at an embassy or consulate by a consular from your country, nor under the law of your own country.
- The legal age for getting married in Portugal is 16. Written consent of both parents is required for those aged under 18.
- Currently, there is no legal residency requirement for a wedding in Portugal.
- Foreign citizens do not acquire Portuguese nationality when marrying a Portuguese citizen. However, they may apply for Portuguese citizenship after three years of marriage.
- You have two options here, either a Civil or Catholic wedding. Both are legally recognised and legally binding. Religious ceremonies for all other churches and faiths must be preceded by a civil ceremony and the marriage certificate should be made available.
- Same-sex civil weddings are permitted with the same provisions.
- The ceremony, Civil or Catholic, will be conducted in Portuguese and if you choose to marry at a church, you should make arrangements in advance with the local priest. It’s not a legal requirement to have a translator, but if neither of you speak Portuguese, you can arrange for an interpreter to be present throughout the ceremony.
Legal requirements to get married in Portugal
To legally get married in Portugal entails a little bit of paperwork and time. Here is an outline of the legal process involved to have your official marriage ceremony in Portugal.
PORTUGUESE MARRIAGE LICENSE
- A couple who decides to get married in Portugal needs to acquire a marriage license from the Civil Registry Office (Conservatória do Registo Civil). This application must be made whether you are applying for a civil or Catholic wedding. Once the license is granted, a date may be booked for the civil wedding or plans can be made with the chosen church.
- It usually takes approximately one month for the Portuguese authorities to process this request. You can apply in person or by assigning a representative with power of attorney. In the case of a Catholic marriage, the priest may also initiate the process.
- The process must be started at least 6 weeks before the expected date of marriage and the marriage must take place within 6 months from the date of its authorisation.
- When applying for your marriage license you must indicate which type of wedding you want (civil, religious), the matrimonial regime of your choice, the day, time, and location of your wedding ceremony.
- There are four kinds of marital regimes available in Portugal. The default regime is marriage in community of property and it costs €100. Pre-nuptial agreements can also be drawn up to alter this in any way and if you choose to have this prepared by the Civil Registry Office the cost is €160. To register a prenuptial agreement, when this has not been prepared in the Civil Registry Office, for example in a notary office, the cost is €30.
- The application fee is €120 if the marriage is being celebrated in the registry office. This amount includes the application for the license and the registration carried out after the marriage.
- If you opt to get married on a Saturday, Sunday or public holiday, after office hours or at a location other than the Civil Registry Office, the cost will be €200. If the marriage is not celebrated at the Civil Registry Office, you must ensure transportation or pay for the travelling costs of the Registrar.
- After the wedding, an international wedding certificate will be issued, which you can use to register the wedding in your country of residence. Some countries require a national certificate with an apostille that then has to be translated in your country.
MATRIMONIAL REGIMES & WEDDINGS IN PORTUGAL
There are four types of matrimonial regimes in Portugal (Regime de bens).
The default regime is ‘marriage in community of property’. Pre-nuptial agreements can also be drawn up to alter this in any way.
What documentation do we need to get married in Portugal?
All documentation must be original and endorsed with an Apostille (an Apostille is a certificate that authenticates documents executed outside of Portugal, such as a birth certificate so that it will be recognised as genuine for use in other countries. This is usually done by a notary). Any documentation that is not in Portuguese must be accompanied by official translations, translated by an agency verified by the Portuguese Consulate.
Documentation required includes:
- Passports or a National Identity Document if you are an EU citizen (the expiry date must be more than six months after your wedding). If one of you lives in Portugal, the resident’s card is enough.
- Recently issued, full-length birth certificates (must show the name of your parents) dated within six months of your wedding date.
- Certificate of No Impediment to Marriage issued not more than 3-6 month prior to your wedding date. Some countries issue an international version of the marriage capacity certificate others may need an apostille or other international certification. This document, which may also be issued by your Consulate in Portugal, confirms there is no obstacle to the marriage in Portugal. All foreigners getting married in Portugal require this document except UK nationals. For US citizens, please contact the Embassy.
- A prenuptial agreement certificate, if it has been prepared at a notary office.
- If this is not your first marriage, a divorce decree or a death certificate to prove termination of previous marriage(s), must be provided. Again, these documents must have been issued within the last six months. If you have been divorced from a wedding in the Catholic church and your marriage was not officially annulled, you cannot marry in the Catholic church in Portugal.
Above, I’ve listed the general documents required for getting married in Portugal, but according to your nationality or country of origin, further documentation may be needed. The Consular Offices of most Embassies are able to help their nationals with much of the documentation required in the preparation of a wedding in Portugal.
It’s possible for the above requirements to change at any time. If you’re getting married in Portugal, be sure and verify this information.
Additional documents that may be needed:
You’ll need to provide extra documents to marry in the Catholic faith in Portugal and must be translated in Portuguese. It must also be stamped by your Bishop’s parish office, not just the local priest. These documents are:
- A formal letter from your parish priest granting permission for the wedding to be performed in your chosen church. This letter must also state that you have fulfilled all PRE CANA procedures and should include the certificate showing that you attended the premarital classes.
- A letter from the Bishop of the parish stating the same as above, which your priest should be able to help you source.
- The original prenuptial inquiry form has to be issued by your parish and be on the formal church letterhead of your Parish.
- All certificates of baptism, first communion, and confirmation must be sent together with the Prenuptial inquiry form and letters.
- If one of you is not Catholic, you will be required to obtain another document, such as “Permission of mixed religions” to testify that the wedding celebration can be performed by the Portuguese Church. You can get this from your local priest.
Getting married in Portugal wedding ceremony options
The ceremony for a civil wedding in Portugal can take place at the registry office or at a location of your choice. It doesn’t need to be a location licensed for weddings, as there is no such license in Portugal. Hotels, restaurants, Quintas, pousadas are among the options. Beach weddings are also possible, but an additional license from the maritime police is required. For the ceremony to be legally binding it must always be performed by a celebrant from the registry office. This needs to be arranged well in advance.
You can also legally marry at the registry office (either in Portugal or your home country) and then hold a symbolic ceremony that suits your tastes better in your chosen venue.
A Catholic wedding can only take place at a church or chapel and you will need to get in touch with the local priest in advance of your wedding to make the necessary arrangements. Once you receive approval, your wedding has to take place within three months.
Usually, the ceremony is conducted in Portuguese but you should be able to arrange an English speaking priest to celebrate the wedding. However, if this is not possible, the solution may be to hold a ceremony with a translator.
There is a fee of approximately €25 from the diocese for the paperwork. Some churches charge a fee for use of the church and some priests ask for a fixed fee for their service. If this is not the case then a donation is required for both church and priest, the appropriate amount would be around €100 – €200.
PROTESTANT WEDDINGS & OTHER FAITHS
Religious ceremonies by non-Catholic churches and other faiths must be preceded by a civil ceremony and the marriage certificate should be made available. Non-Catholic churches and other faiths are not licensed to perform the legal/civil wedding, therefore weddings must be preceded by a civil ceremony and the marriage certificate should be made available.
Many Anglican weddings take place in Portugal every year. You will need to have obtained a marriage certificate from your own country. The priest will check your legal documents and will make sure you have all the other documentation needed. There are also English speaking Anglican priests that will be more than happy to conduct your Anglican wedding ceremony in Portugal.
To have your Hindu wedding ceremony in Portugal at a venue of your choice, you need to go as a couple to Lisbon’s Hindu Temple to speak to the Hindu priest and book a date with him. The Palace of Monserrate has fabulous scenarios for your Hindu Wedding Ceremony in Portugal. The huge gardens with natural shades are the perfect location to celebrate with your beloved friends and family.
One type of ceremony that is very popular is a civil and celebration ceremony. The format means that you will have a celebrant, who could also act as your translator. They will generally be who leads you through the ceremony from beginning to end.
There will also be a registrar who performs the civil part at the beginning of the ceremony. During the civil ceremony, the celebrant will translate from Portuguese into English (or any other language) and after the registrar has finished, the celebrant can continue with a celebration ceremony in the language of your choice.
Celebrants are not able to do legal valid ceremonies. The presence of a registrar is obligatory.
BLESSING & ELOPEMENT CEREMONIES in Portugal
Many couples choose to legally marry in their own country and have a blessing performed in Portugal. This means that all of the paperwork is done in the country of origin, where the legislation is more familiar to them. The procedures may be faster as well. After legally getting married in their home country, the big celebration takes place in Portugal.
Celebration and blessing ceremonies are becoming more and more popular in Portugal. These are non-legal binding weddings and are officiated by a celebrant in the language of your choice. A celebrant has no restrictions in terms of the content, format, or style of a wedding, therefore your ceremony can be completely personalised.
Unlike a civil wedding, you do not need to worry about paperwork or any restrictions the civil registrar may have. You may choose to have a civil ceremony before or after the celebration ceremony. Even if you don’t plan to get married legally, there is nothing to stop you from having a celebration ceremony.
BEACH WEDDINGS – Weddings in the Algarve
Isn’t it just the dream to get married on a beach? Portugal has stretches of beautiful beaches along the Algarve and Lisbon coast where you can have your wedding ceremony.
Before you consider getting married on the beach, you need to know that a license is required from the Port Authority (Capitania) near the location of your choice. If the beach belongs to a nature reserve then a license from the nature reserve office also needs to be obtained. If you are having a ceremony at a restaurant or villa close to the beach, they might already have a license and you can go ahead with your wedding, without any inconvenience.
On the other hand, it is necessary to know how to choose a specific beach. While on some beaches there is the freedom to use the space as needed, in others demarcation of the space is not allowed. The times allowed vary from location to location during summer season when the beaches are fuller.
As a solution, many couples choose not to officially marry on the beach but organise an informal and symbolic wedding. Since the bureaucracies will have been dealt with and the marriage will technically be formalised, under the law. In the case of couples who prefer the religious ritual, the elected priests must ask for a special authorization.
It is recommended to get the help of a wedding planner or at least a coordinator with experience in beach weddings. They will offer beach packages on available locations and venues and can advise accordingly.
How much does getting married in Portugal cost?
As usual, it really depends on your budget and how simple or extravagant you choose to have your wedding. An elopement package usually costs from €1.090 and up while a wedding package can cost anything between €4.000 – €15.000 and up. It depends on how many guests and which venue you choose, etc.
If you’re thinking of eloping, take a look at my ultimate guide to eloping over here.